The Tragedy of the Commons/Out of Sight & Out of Mind: a New Oceanic Imperialism

Topics: Tragedy of the commons, Population growth, Overpopulation Pages: 6 (2254 words) Published: June 21, 2011
The Tragedy of the Commons/Out of Sight & Out of Mind: A New Oceanic Imperialism

In the first article, Garrett Hardin attempts to assert that there is no universal solution to the population problem. His supports this central thesis be explaining that in a world that has finite resources, the population must inherently also be finite. He also declares that the optimum population is less than the maximum. In order to take full advantage of each individuals potential, it is necessary to maximize “good per person” (which is a relative phrase; and to measure the values of the goods, a weighting system would have to be implemented). The philosophical tragedy of the commons occurs when individuals overuse (for their personal benefit) the commons to the point where it impedes on the use and future use of others and future generations. This overuse also leads to devaluation. Hardin proposed an analogy of a field “open to all,” in which common ownership leads to environmental degradation. In terms of pollution, the problem of the commons deals with adding to the commons rather than taking from the commons. The natural tendency of man (at the individual level) is to justify their actions based on the cost saving that could arise from for instance polluting, instead of having their waste properly disposed of. This micro view of the problem leads to aggregate problems for the entire population because if each person resorts to such actions, the commons (as a result of pollution for example) will be drastically over-polluted and ineffectual for all. Hardin describes a potential solution to the problem of the commons which utilizes administrative law coupled with temperance and morality (relative to the times). The author’s next critical assertion is that a given population should restrict the freedom to breed. He exclaims that if every family in society were required to provide for their children and home without any government intervention or assistance, there would be no need for population control because the population would essentially control itself (through disease and famine and natural checks for those who did not have sufficient resources). Moreover, this lack of family planning (by the state), in addition to the freedom of the commons, is dooming society because we are basically “adding fish to the pond” (at the will of the “fish”) without adding size, depth and subsistence to the pond. To curb this societal attitude towards increasing population at will, Hardin describes that it would not be efficient to try and guilt people in adhering to personal population constraints or try to make it a matter of responsibility, nor would trying to influence their conscious be efficient. Rather than the aforementioned, Hardin feels that it would be most useful for societies to implement mutual coercion techniques to influence a fair use of the commons. Such techniques include privatizing the commons. In summation, Hardin feels that the commons can only be justified as common given a state of low population density. The greater the population becomes (in number) the less common the commons should become meaning that certain aspects of their usage/availability to all must be derelict. As it relates to our oceans, the tragedy of the commons would be the exhausting of its resources (fish and whale species) to near extinction, along with the monopolization of related industries by large companies (causing small local fisherman and producers to be priced out of the market. The author’s of the second article expose the attempted privatization of the oceans. The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) is attempting to allow large corporations to engage in open ocean fish farming, which will inevitably increase pollution, as well as environmental degradation, and lead to the majority of profits from the industry being shared by a few powerhouses. The rationalization for these moves is attributed rather...
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